Drip …. drip …. drip …. drip …. my eyes slam open! It takes a moment to decide if I’m dreaming or awake. Damn, I’m awake. I glance at the bedside clock … 2:26 a.m. I make a conscious decision to roll over and go back to sleep. Drip …. drip …. drip …. drip …. so much for that.

Okay, I’ll lie here and review the upcoming day, that ought to get my mind off the incessant dripping and put me straight to sleep. So, what’s on the agenda tomorrow? Oh crap, I’ve got that dreaded physical examination tomorrow. When I made the appointment three months ago I never gave it a second thought. I can’t believe it’s actually here!

It all started with an innocent comment at a family reunion. The topic of annual physical check-ups came up and when someone asked me when I had last gone, I innocently replied that it was about ten years ago. Well you would have thought I had just revealed a lifelong fetish for torturing Pomeranian puppies!

“You’re over fifty, and you haven’t gone to the doctor in ten years?! Are you kidding?! What’s wrong with you? Are you some kind of nut?"

I meekly suggested that I felt fine and so I simply forgot.

“How can you forget? Do you want cancer? What about heart disease? Your family has a history of heart disease you know! You better make an appointment and fast!”

I felt picked on. What a barrage. So, under the circumstances, I did what any healthy, rational, self-assured person would do, I folded as easily as a collapsible chair and promised that I would make an appointment the very next day. And so, the time has come and now I’m more than a little freaked out.

Drip …. drip …. drip …. drip …., maybe Michele didn’t turn the shower handle off all the way. I get out of bed to check the handle. I remember that her shower has that type of handle that doesn’t have a hard-off adjustment. It just turns to a full stop and if you keep turning it goes to a full-blast. In my sleepy stupor I reached into the shower stall and accidently turned it to a full-blast. “Damn it!” As I’m muttering and towel-drying my head I realize I’ve now managed to wake Michele.

I explained, then apologized, then tried in vain to go back to sleep. No luck. Now I'm fully awake and my mind is really racing. I decide to forget about tomorrow’s physical, and all that that entails, and instead, I zero-in on the showerhead. Fixing the %$#&^ faucet has just been escalated to top-priority.

Here’s a tip when trying to fall asleep! – Never try to think about what it is you don’t want to think about! You know what I mean?

The more I tried to forget about that darn physical the more I kept imagining the whole ordeal and that damned rubber glove.

I don’t know when I finally fell asleep, but I vividly remember being awake long enough to see the digits on the bedside clock reach 5:14. My next conscious awareness is Michele shaking me awake. “I’m late for work,” she says earnestly. “Can I borrow your car? Mine has a flat.”

“Yeah sure, go ahead,” I grumbled. I glanced at the clock that now read 6:48. I rolled over and was just about to slide back to sleep when my conscious mind decided to remind me, yet again, of my upcoming physical.

“Oh to hell with it,” I thought, “I’d better get up and take a look at Michele’s car.”

Sure enough, the front tire was completely flat. I immediately called the AAA people to come and fix it, naively thinking that that would be the end of my involvement with the tire. Within fifteen minutes the doorbell rang and AAA was ready to solve my tire problem. The repair guy asked me to open the trunk and pull out the spare, and as soon as I did I realized I wasn’t anywhere near finished with this matter. The spare tire looked like it belonged to the back wheel of a kid’s tricycle!

“What the hell is that?” I asked. “That’s just an emergency tire,” AAA replied. “You shouldn’t drive around in them, they’re just designed to get you to a garage.”

“To get me to a garage?” I asked. “It doesn’t look safe enough to back out of the driveway!”

“It’ll be fine,” he shouted, as he rolled up his window and drove off.

I stared at it for a while, kicked it a couple of times and decided I would take his word for it. Oh yeah, I remembered, the first thing on my day’s list is fixing that dripping faucet.

The first step in plumbing is to always turn the main water supply off. Next I got some pliers, a couple of screwdrivers and very systematically I began to take the shower handle apart. I removed the decorative cap with the H/C on it, then a few screws, then the faceplate, and finally I began to dismantle the copper and brass fittings that caused the leak in the first place. I carefully placed each piece in a row so that when I had to put them all back together there wouldn’t be the slightest doubt of their proper order. I finally got to the last pieces and there was nothing left but the T-joint and some complicated looking part that didn’t allow for any adjustment.

Since it didn’t look like there was anything to fix or adjust I decided to put it back together, just as I found it, confident that the leak would be fixed if everything was nice and snug. As I reversed the earlier process, there was only two times I wasn’t sure if the piece was right-side-up or not, but it seemed to fit either way so what-the-hell.

I put the faceplate on, screwed in the last two screws and with a quick, sharp tap with the heel of my palm, I snapped the little H/C cap into the handle. It looked perfect. Certain all was in order I went to the basement and turned the main water supply back on.

Being the “expert” repair guy that I am, I was smart enough to bring all the tools back to the basement with me. I was so confident that my repair would be perfect, I spent a few minutes returning the tools and did a quick tidy-up job in the furnace room before I bothered to confirm that the dripping had stopped.

I finally went back upstairs and was mildly surprised to hear the shower running, but that wasn’t such a big deal, I must have left it in the ‘on’ position. When I walked into the bedroom and turned the corner to the bathroom I almost had a seizure!

There was three inches of water on the bathroom floor and rising! I splashed across the floor to see that the shower head had been pointing at the glass door, which I had left wide-open. I reached in to shut the tap off and to my horror I could turn the shower handle completely around, a full 360 degrees, and it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference. The water kept coming. By now I was soaked from head-to-toe as a raced to the basement to shut the main water valve off.

Visualizing three inches of water on the floor I raced back upstairs to the laundry room, grabbed a hamper full of clothes, ran to the bathroom and threw them at the flood. Not nearly enough. I then ran to get Michele’s clothes hamper and threw that on the floor. It was starting to soak up some of the water, but still not enough. Towels! I ran to the linen closet, grabbed an armful of towels, and threw them on top of the sopping clothes. It was starting to make a difference. One by one I threw the drenched clothes and towels into the bathtub and slowly I began to beat back the flood, desperately trying to win the race against staining the basement ceiling. After a frantic twenty minutes the last of the water was mopped up.

Now what? I would feel like a horse’s ass if Michele comes home and I tell her that if we turn the main water on her shower will automatically run until we can get a real plumber.

Nothing doing, no way! I’ll pay some plumber $500 before I succumb to the ribbing I’ll get over this one.

Just replace the entire faucet a small voice inside my head tells me. Of course, it’s the smartest and safest thing to do. I change out of my wet clothes, grab my keys and go out to the garage only to remember that Michele has my car and I’ve got her car with that wonky little tire.

I swear silently for a few moments, then I get Michele’s keys and stomp off to the car.

“Okay, what’s the plan?” I ask myself while still sitting in the driveway. First, drop the flat off at the garage. While they repair that, go to the hardware store and buy another faucet. Return to the garage, have them install the tire on Michele’s car, go home, replace the faucet, and then … oh yeah, the physical. Well one good thing, at least the appointment isn’t until 4:15 and it’s only 10:30. I’ve got plenty of time.

The guy at the garage tells me they can fix the tire, no problem, but he adds, they’ve got a lot of "booked-appointments" to change winter tires over to summer tires, so they won’t have it ready until about five p.m.

“Fine,” I mutter. “I’ll see you at five sharp.”

At the hardware store the nice, “helpful” lady, who looked like the anthropomorphic version of Marge Simpson, informs me that all these shower heads looked the same if you were to ask her. “The guy you want to talk to is Clarence. He’s just a wiz when it comes to plumbing,” she informs me. “I don’t know how he can tell one doohickey from another, but he can set you straight.”

While biting my lip, I ask “Marge” where I might find Clarence. “Oh, he’s around here somewhere,” she assures me. “Where’s Clarence?” Marge shouted to the front of the store? A voice hollers back that he’s out on a call and won’t be back for a couple of hours.

Marge is no dummy. She can sense the urgency of my problem and my anguish as the blood begins to appear from my freshly gnawed knuckles. She suggests that I try a plumbing store instead.

As I walk into the plumbing store I’m certain that I’ve found the answer. This place has everything imaginable, including some actual on-site plumbers. I hand the lady at the desk the piece of paper that has the make, and model number of the faucet I need. She looks at it for a fraction of a second and asks, “How old’s the faucet?”

I shrug and guess about ten or eleven years old.

“You’ll have to contact the manufacturer if you want a replacement part,” she says. “They make so many models we couldn’t possibly carry all the parts.”

“I don’t care, I’ll buy a whole new faucet,” I plead. Just then a plumber dude walks by and suggests that I try replacing the two black washers at the base of the copper fitting. “Will it work?” I ask anxiously. “It may work and it may not,” he says. “If it doesn’t work then you’ll have to replace the whole fitting.” He draws a quick sketch and tells me what to look for. I don’t dare breath a word of my earlier mishap to him, nor my now shaky beliefs in my plumbing skills. He gives me two brand new washers, charges me $7.50 and wishes me luck.

Even I know I’m getting ripped off at $7.50, but I don’t care. I just want the water fixed before Michele gets home.

I rush through the front door and go straight to the furnace room to retrieve the tools. I get to the very end of the disassembly process where I find the two “worn-out” washers. I replace them with the new ones and begin reassembly. Once again as I put all the parts back, there seems to be a couple of pieces that fit the same right-side-up or upside-down. I forge ahead. With everything back together I make certain the shower door is now closed.

I hurry downstairs, turn the main water valve on, and then race back upstairs. Silence. No running water. I gently slide the shower door open and turn on the tap. It works! I can’t believe it, it works! I turn the tap off, and mop up any of the remaining evidence of the earlier flood.

Oh crap. I just realized I can forget about keeping this flood a secret. I used Michele’s laundry basket to soak up the water. I’ve got a bathtub full of soaking wet towels and clothes.

After two hours of doing laundry I’m now actually late for my doctor’s appointment! I quickly shower and change and I let out a small groan as I walk out to the driveway and see Michele’s car with the damned tricycle wheel on the front.

Racing to the doctor’s office I arrive at 4:19. Not bad. If I recall there’s usually a short wait anyway. I take the elevator to the fourth floor and as soon as the door opens I can see that something isn’t quite right. There’s more than thirty people filling the waiting room and the surrounding hall. I push my way through to the receptionist and begin by suggesting that I come back at a more convenient time. This would be perfect, I thought, I can probably get another three-month reprieve.

“The wait won’t be too long,” she informs me. “These patients are for five different doctors. You should be able to see the doctor in about fifteen minutes. Find a place in the hall. We’ll call you shortly.”

Twenty-five minutes later I’m in. My doctor looks at me as if trying to recall a distant childhood memory. “Haven’t I seen you before?” he inquires. He takes a look at my file and he immediately has a more assured look on his face as he reminds me that I haven’t been there in over ten years, and now that I’m over fifty, I should be a little more careful. I smile and nod and take another bite of my knuckles. He begins his examination by taking my blood pressure and notes that it’s a little higher than the last time I was there.

I was going to tell him about my day, so far, but realize that will only push my blood pressure even higher, so I just nodded and smiled. He reassures me that my blood-pressure is only slightly higher than it was ten years earlier, and that very often this can be attributed to “white-coat” syndrome.” To be sure I get it, he explains that means that some people have a fear of check-ups.

“That would definitely be part of it,” I'm thinking, as I hear the dreaded snap of the rubber glove and his request that I lie on my side and pull my knees to my chest.

“You appear to be in good health, but seeing as how you’re over fifty, we’re going to need a complete physical. As he tells me all the various things and tests I have in-store, he suggests I make another appointment for two weeks from that day.

As I wearily walk out of his office toward the parking lot, I see Michele’s car. I suddenly remember that I have to get across town before the garage closes at six. Needless to say I’m caught in rush-hour traffic.

I manage to pull into the garage at 5:50. The mechanic informs me that the tire is fixed, but because his credit card machine is on the fritz, he’s doing all the invoicing by hand and he’ll just be a few more minutes before he can get to me.

When at last he painstakingly prepares my bill, he smiles broadly and announces that it’s six o’clock and he’s done for the day. “You’re tire,” he says in a happy tone, “is the only one out there. It’s leaning against the building next to the air machine. I suddenly realize this guy has no intention of installing my tire!

Good luck,” he calls back as he rolls up his window and drives off.

Alone in the empty parking lot, I slowly begin to jack up the car. Forty-five minutes later I’m covered in filth and grease, but the tire is on. The only real quandary I’m struggling with is the damned hubcap. The old metal ones were the kind you slammed on with the heel of your hand. This one seems to fit a little loose. Anyway the wheel’s tight, and this hubcap, although it seems a bit loose, looks like it’ll hold. Filthy, wornout and exhausted, I put the jack and tools in the trunk and drive home.

I probably didn’t comprehend the look on my face when I walked through the front door, but Michele sure did. She took one look at me and simply asked; “Red or white?”

“Red,” I said, “and keep it full until I whimper enough!”

Michele and I have an understanding. Whenever one of us has a day like THIS, we simply don’t ask. We just wait. Let the other person divulge whatever happened in their own good time.

Realizing I was in quite a state, (drinking the wine over the kitchen sink was a dead giveaway), Michele made up some excuse that she needed something from the store. As she headed for the door, she thanked me for fixing her tire.

About a half hour later, Michele returned home and mentioned that she couldn’t help but notice that her front hubcap was missing.

Sighing wearily I suggested we re-trace her recent route to the store. We didn’t get more than a few hundred yards out of the driveway when we spot it laying on our neighbor's front lawn.

I threw it in the trunk and suggested she might want to take it to her mechanic. I now suspected that I would have to remove all the nuts and reinstall the tire in order to secure the hubcap properly. I was in no mood.

As Michele drove home I was suddenly reminded of another day-from-hell that happened many years earlier. My friend Kate and I planned to spend a sun-filled day among the 1,000 Islands in my little powerboat. The day started off wonderfully. Within two hours of leaving the dock we managed to get thoroughly lost. Racing madly about in search of a familiar landmark I ran the boat onto a shoal and destroyed the propeller. Soon after clouds rolled in and it began to rain so hard the storm appeared to becoming from the horizon! We were lost, cold, wet, and helpless. Finally the storm passed and several hours later a boater came by and threw us a line.

As he towed us toward the nearest marina, Kate and I glared at each other in stony silence. We looked like two drowned rats. I can’t remember ever being so cold, tired and discombobulated as I was on that day. By now it was early evening and both of us had missed our shifts for work. As we stared at each other I mumbled, “Kate, do you remember the time …”

Immediately we both embraced the gist of that saying. That day on the water was truly a day from hell. It was a day that we would talk about for the rest of our lives. Suddenly we started to laugh. Actually it was more than that. It was a joyous, belly laugh. We had just experienced one of those days where you could mope and groan, as we had been doing, or you could just ask the day; “Okay, what the hell else do you have to throw at me?”

Anyway we laughed and hooted and immediately we had managed to turn our day around to one of those "memorable" days-from-hell.

As Michele and I walked through the front door I laughing said, “Go ahead, ask me how my day was. I dare you," and of course we had a good laugh as I recounted THE day.

Later that night, laying in bed, I couldn’t help but notice my friend was back …. drip …. drip …. drip …. drip.

As I lay there, listening to the damned faucet drip, I had to smile. Once again life handed me a lesson on a silver platter. Go ahead and get all worked up. Get you blood pressure boiling and get really good and upset. In the end, it doesn’t matter a wit.

So here's the point of my story. Whenever you have one of THOSE days, and we all do, just remember that the day won’t last, but a great memory will live forever. This might be cold comfort while you're enduring the anguish of the-worst-day-of-your-life, but the worse the day the better and more fun the memory.

As I was just managing to tune-out the incessant dripping and about to enter the blissful world of sleep, Michele gave me a slight shove and said; “I hate to tell you this, but I think the faucet’s still leaking.”

Author's Bio: 

Richard Fast, the author and creator of more than 30 toys, games, puzzles and books, has devoted the past twenty years into the research and development of his 29 DAYS template.

He, like the rest of us, had always been told that if you want to change your life just change your thoughts. But how can we change the way we think?

Richard discovered that we can change our fundamental thoughts into desirable new habits by following the same cognitive procedures that we used to create our existing habits.

Richard’s 29 DAYS template for change uses proven, scientific techniques, technology and online coaching, to guide you through a step-by-step process toward changing your thoughts and acquiring desirable new habits ... permanently.